Bagi, his mother and grandfather lead a serene life tending to their herds in the snow-swept Mongolian steppes. He has a gift, which is the uncanny ability to hear animals over great distances. Upon retrieving a lost sheep, Bagi has a disturbing premonition and suffers an epileptic fit. A shamaness manages to revive him then announces that his destiny is to become a shaman. Bagi rejects this supposed calling in spite of his grandfather’s warning that denying such a destiny brings misfortune. Soon after, a military convoy roars over the horizon. An unidentifiable plague has struck. The nomads are all resettled in bleak mining towns and their animals are quarantined then slaughtered.
In the mining town, Bagi careens around on a motorcycle with sidecar delivering mail. His grandfather, now confined to their humble apartment, has fallen silent with sorrow. His mother, however, is decidedly content in her new job operating a colossal excavator machine in the open-pit mine. This fragile status quo is suddenly disturbed by the suicide of an elderly herdswoman.
Bagi saves the life of a beautiful coal thief, Zolzaya, and they end up on a coal train bound for the distant city. They are promptly arrested by soldiers who condemn them to hard labour on a road crew of young misfits who happen to be Zolzaya’s friends. The shamaness, who has been watching Bagi from afar, gives him a disturbing jolt, which plunges him into an epileptic fit. He finds himself in a hospital for people suffering from the trauma of the relocations. A psychiatrist tells him that he suffers from epilepsy and can be treated. Soon enough, however, his sense of hearing reawakens. Whispering through the water pipes are the sounds of animals. Bagi tries desperately to convince other patients that he can hear animals still alive. Nobody heeds his cries and he is placed in solitary confinement. Bagi then slips into his first true shamanic journey and finds himself confronted by the shamaness in the setting of a devastated futuristic city. She arms him with a shaman’s mirror. His soul struggles back through waterways and ruins but he cannot relocate his body. From within the labyrinth of the parallel world he struggles to reach Zolzaya. She immediately senses his presence and follows the signs he gently places in front of her. With his mirror he causes blue sacred scarves to fall by the hundreds from the sky. A breathtaking revolution ensues. –www.khadak.com
After 13 years of working on a range of projects in Mongolia, Peter Brosens (Belgium, 1962) returns to the Andean highlands to direct his second feature film with Jessica Woodworth, ALTIPLANO. Brosens first visited Peru in 1984 where he did extensive fieldwork on the integration of invasion settlements in the city of Lima. From 1988 until 1990 he lived and worked in Guayaquil (Ecuador) studying migration from the Andes, and in 1992 he investigated epidemic forms of protest suicide in the central Ecuadorean highlands. His award-winning documentary EL CAMINO DEL TIEMPO is one of the results of this in-depth research.
Since 1992 Brosens has been working as an independent director and producer of high-profile films. Between 1993 and 1999 he produced and co-directed his internationally-acclaimed Mongolia Trilogy (CITY OF THE STEPPES, STATE OF DOGS & POETS OF MONGOLIA). Together, these innovative documentaries received 23 awards, were selected for over 100 festivals and were distributed… read more
Born in 1971, Jessica Woodworth is a former TV writer-producer-director, now working for cinema with Belgian filmmaker Peter Brosens, whose acclaimed common works to-date are Khadak (2006) and Altiplano (2009) and whose love for ethnography she shares. Before this stage in her career Jessica Woodworth had worked for television in Hong Kong and Beijing. She shot her first theatrical movie Urga Song (1999) in Mongolia. After making “The Virgin Diaries”, a documentary filmed in Morocco, she chose to join Peter Brosens for a fruitful collaboration, still in progress. —IMDb